Six Flying Dragons: Episode 17
Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the prettiest bearded lady of them all? I mean, greatest swordsman? Or how about mass murderer? Gil Tae-mi may be many things, but someone who leaves the house without makeup he is most definitely not. He’s not even someone who’ll kill scores of men without refreshing his eyeshadow first, and even if he’s the type who takes his breakfast with a side of carnage, you can’t help but appreciate his style. Rock on, Gil Tae-mi, even if you may not be rocking for long.
SONG OF THE DAY
Girls’ Generation – “Catch Me If You Can” [ Download ]
EPISODE 17 RECAP
While General Choi is initially reluctant to side with Lee Seong-gye against Minister Hong, Lee’s assurance that he’ll get the Haedong Gapjok’s support instead of Hong causes him to reconsider.
And Lee Seong-gye’s promise comes through when Bang-won takes the petition the Haedong Gapjok to Jung Do-jeon, which prompts his teacher to note, “This time, I learned from you.” The petition is delivered straight to General Choi, who plans on taking it to the king personally.
News of Haedong Gapjok throwing their support behind Lee Seong-gye reaches Cho-young and Jukryong respectively, though the latter chooses to sit on the information while he weighs his options. Even though Lee Seong-gye could emerge victorious from what he sees as an inevitable war between him and Minister Hong, he’s already made his bed with Hong and has to keep sleeping in it.
Lee Seong-gye, dressed in full battle armor, addresses his inner circle to prepare them for war as soon as they receive the royal command. They plan to take down Minister Hong, Gil Tae-mi, and Lee In-gyeom in one fell swoop.
The only way Minister Hong has a shot is if he strikes first, which is why Jukryong goes running to him to catch him up on everything he’s missed. When he finds out that General Choi has gone to the king with an impeachment order for him, his only chance is to use his power over the state tribunal to attack Lee Seong-gye before the royal command reaches them.
General Choi receives the royal command to have Gil Tae-mi and Minister Hong arrested, but since news doesn’t travel fast enough, Minister Hong manages to rally his soldiers in the state tribunal to arrest “the traitor” Lee Seong-gye before Choi can tell them the truth.
Minister Hong’s soldiers storm Lee Seong-gye’s manor only to end up with nothing… because the general and his men are currently outside Gil Tae-mi’s house. Our makeup’d swordsman knows that his in-law must’ve failed if Lee Seong-gye’s soldiers have surrounded his house, and plans to find a way to get out and help Minister Hong.
Jung Do-jeon had already warned his men about Gil Tae-mi and his ability to kill dozens of men at a time, and cautioned them to capture him before he could escape and gather more forces. Moo-hyul makes it his mission to do just that.
Minister Hong is in danger of losing his cool when he hears that Lee Seong-gye’s men attacked his in-law’s house, but instead of rushing to help him, he decides to focus his troops on the palace instead—this time by claiming that Lee Seong-gye has gone to attack the king. Gil Tae-mi can take care of himself, or so he reasons.
After Gil Tae-mi’s forces have been defeated, Lee Seong-gye’s sons partition their troops to form a search party for Gil Tae-mi. Moo-hyul sees Bang-ji walking like he’s on a mission and draws his sword to follow, figuring that he’s going to track Gil Tae-mi down using his special spidey senses.
When Lee In-gyeom finds out about the fracas going on, he orders a general and two ministers from his inner circle to be brought to his secret meeting room immediately.
Meanwhile, Lee Seong-gye and his men find one of their soldiers dead and missing his armor, deducing that Gil Tae-mi used that garb to escape unnoticed. (How did anyone miss that eyeshadow?!)
But Jung Do-jeon doesn’t allow Shin-jeok to take a small contingent to hunt him down—Gil Tae-mi can kill that amount of men easily, and Jung is done underestimating his opponents. They’ll need to proceed with their plan to take control of Lee In-gyeom’s soldiers before they can go after Gil Tae-mi in earnest.
Bang-won watches “General” Boon-yi pore over a map of all the major players’ general locations and update it as she hears new intel from her ring of fellow villagers-turned-spies. He gets a kick out of the villagers addressing her like soldiers do a general, but puts in his two cents when it comes to Minister Hong marching on the palace—he’s sure General Choi and the royal guards will take care of him.
Jung Do-jeon enters the situation room to tell Boon-yi that he needs Gil Tae-mi found yesterday, and luckily, she has plenty of detailed portraits of Gil Tae-mi on hand for their spies to use as reference. I feel like those could also substitute as his makeup charts.
Bang-ji, Moo-hyul, and Young-kyu form their own team to track him down, though Jung Do-jeon warns them against going into this with a fighting mindset. He wants Gil Tae-mi captured alive above all else.
And like Bang-won, Jung Do-jeon thinks it’s fortunate that Minister Hong has sent his troops to the palace where he’ll clash against General Choi’s capable forces, since it would’ve been worse for them if he’d joined up with Lee In-gyeom instead.
Boon-yi scoffs when Bang-won mouths a triumphant “I told you so” before he turns serious to explain why he’s in the situation room and not outside: “I have to see Hong In-bang arrested and taken away. I am waiting for that.”
Minister Hong encounters General Choi and the palace guards, in what becomes a war of “Arrest him!” “No, arrest him!” as the two engage in a shouting match in order to get the other side to stand down. General Choi has a royal command, but Minister Hong claims it’s fake—which leaves his soldiers with a very hard choice to make.
General Choi declares Minister Hong a traitor, and draws his sword to arrest him. As he approaches, Hong’s soldiers look uneasily from him to General Choi, wondering who to believe. But in the end, they draw their swords against Minister Hong, and he’s arrested.
However, only a small contingent of soldiers takes Minister Hong to Whoknowswhereville, leaving them perfectly vulnerable when Gil Tae-mi happens upon them. They turn and run just at the threat of violence from the great warrior, effectively freeing Minister Hong.
I love how Gil Tae-mi is all upset that Lee Seong-gye barged into his house before he could even eat breakfast, but Minister Hong doesn’t see how he’s taking this so lightly. Because he started from the bottom now he’s here (I’m so sorry), Gil Tae-mi is at peace with whatever’s coming—even if it’s his end, he has no regrets.
Even though Minister Hong offers to escape together with him to Pyeongtaek, Gil Tae-mi just urges him to go alone. He’s staying because he wants to kill Lee Seong-gye, and plans to use Cho-young’s intel to find him. This all sounds suspiciously like a final goodbye as Minister Hong urges him to come with him, only for his in-law to balk, “Do you not trust me? I’m the best swordsman of the Three Kingdoms, Gil Tae-mi!”
But, as if knowing that it’s the only way to reassure him, Gil Tae-mi says he’ll meet Minister Hong later. Before he leaves, he makes sure to tell Minister Hong: “I’ve had so much fun since I met you.” Aww. He’s going to his death, isn’t he? I’m more than ready for Minister Hong to go, but not Gil Tae-mi!
Team Joseon is understandably upset when they hear that Minister Hong and Gil Tae-mi escaped, now focusing their efforts on how to recapture them before they can leave the capital. Bang-ji is the one who suggests that if they are taking a boat, it’ll definitely be a smuggling boat, and he knows just who to ask about that.
He tasks Gab-boon with finding out which smuggling boats will be leaving today, which she’s all too happy to do when she hears that it’s the despicable Minister Hong he’s after. But before she leaves she says to Bang-ji, “You look good. I’m glad.”
Lee In-gyeom’s been playing this game for a long time, so when two of Minister Hong’s dodang cronies come crying to him about their uncertain futures should Hong lose, he simply tells them to write an impeachment plea. That way, they can make it look like they totally weren’t on Minister Hong’s side so they can slither over to the winning side. Ah, politics.
It’s then that he goes down into his secret room to address his two minister buddies and General JO MIN-SOO. It’s important that the ministers endear themselves to General Choi in what’s bound to be an ensuing power struggle between General Choi and Lee Seong-gye once they take over the dodang. The same goes for General Jo, who’ll get in close with General Choi so he can report his every move back to Lee In-gyeom.
Lee Seong-gye, Ji-ran, and a contingent of his soldiers arrive to arrest Lee In-gyeom. But the elder isn’t at all fazed by the show of force, claiming that he didn’t do anything—he’s been retired, remember? It was all Minister Hong and Gil Tae-mi, he claims.
But Lee Seong-gye accuses him of the crime of raising those two and using them for his own purposes, which he proves when he drops an envelope full of deeds for land he had illegally stolen from the people. Lee In-gyeom barely glances at it, and proclaims in a booming voice that he is still father-in-law to the king and until recently had the highest office underneath the king.
So, if Lee Seong-gye wants to arrest him, he’ll need a royal command to do it. Lee Seong-gye accepts that, but has everyone else in the household arrested save for one servant. “I hope you have a good life by yourself in this empty manor,” he adds, before instructing his men to keep posted outside. Lee In-gyeom is now under house arrest.
Team Joseon’s spies find out which boat Minister Hong plans on taking, while Yeon-hee tells Jung Do-jeon that she managed to convince Cho-young to abandon Minister Hong and Gil Tae-mi. Cho-young also told her where to find the latter of the two also, since they were already planning to meet.
Gil Tae-mi shows up as planned, and whines for some food—he still hasn’t eaten breakfast since Lee Seong-gye ruined everything. Aw. He doesn’t know he’s walking into a trap.
Likewise, Minister Hong’s servant/Yeon-hee’s rapist (he doesn’t ever get to lose that title) has betrayed his master, and sells him out before he can get to the boat. As General Jo and Officer Nam approach, Minister Hong jumps into the boat and urges the boatman to cast off…
…But the boatman asks instead, “Where are you going in such a hurry, Teacher?” It’s Bang-won, and the sight of him is enough to cause Minister Hong to stumble backward. “Didn’t I tell you?” Bang-won adds with a smile. “I said I would meet you again on this path and see you punished.”
Just as Gil Tae-mi is ogling over one of the gisaeng’s makeup stashes, he hears a soldier outside call for his arrest. Turns out there are a lot of soldiers out there, and he knows he’s been betrayed by Cho-young. Still, they’re not smart soldiers, and they ignore the order to wait for reinforcements.
They storm into the room containing Gil Tae-mi as he fastidiously applies a nice shade of circus blue to his eyelids. “Just wait. If my eyes come out crooked, all of you will die. Actually, I’ll be killing you either way,” says the fiercest and most fabulous warrior of them all.
He’s unconcerned with escaping and getting to Pyeongtaek so he can gather his forces, and faces the group of soldiers that are literally quivering in their boots. That’s when Team Joseon finds out that their soldiers disobeyed orders by engaging Gil Tae-mi, so Shin-jeok and Moo-hyul go to provide belated backup.
Only there’s nothing to back up anymore—Gil Tae-mi has left a sea of bodies, blood, and severed limbs in his wake. The entire contingent has been singlehandedly decimated, and the only reason Gil Tae-mi is even slightly winded is because he didn’t have his breakfast that morning. It’s the most important meal of the day for a reason.
His in-law is in much more dire straits, since Bang-won faces him now strapped to a torture chair in the traditional bloody underclothes and mussed hair. “You said that I shared similarities with you,” Bang-won says as he stands over him. “But I finally realize… that I am different from you. I never fool with the corrupt, whispering bug in my heart.”
Minister Hong manages a wry smile at that, warning him against acting so cocky—that bug’s still whispering, and Bang-won may not always be able to ignore it. Bang-won shoots back that Minister Hong fell prey to it because he surrendered to torture and blamed the world when he couldn’t accept what he’d done.
“I know myself now,” Bang-won adds emphatically. It’s not that he couldn’t stand himself being powerless, he claims, but that he couldn’t stand himself without hopes and dreams. Minister Hong acknowledges that what Jung Do-jeon sold to him must have sounded exciting—after all, he was once like him and believed the same things.
“But you should consider carefully whether that excitement stems from the nation Sambong wishes to create… or if it’s because you wish to have that nation for yourself,” Minister Hong returns. “Pathetic to the end. But I am no longer afraid of cursed evil men like yourself. Goodbye, Teacher Hong In-bang.” He spits out that title derisively and goes, leaving Hong looking mighty defeated.
Daddy Min praises Da-kyung for her foresight in picking Lee Seong-gye, since he was victorious over Minister Hong after all. That’s when she flashes back to Bang-won giving her his family’s biggest secret on paper, which read: “There will be a dynastic revolution, and the Lee family will take this country.” She doesn’t share that part with her father.
A blood-spattered Gil Tae-mi finally gets to eat his breakfast, be it surrounded by a bunch of trembling soldiers too scared to face him. And in front of him is the family who made his breakfast, all lying in pools of their own blood. That somehow seems uncharacteristic of him—not that he’d mind eating amongst such carnage, but that he’d kill innocents on a whim.
Loud enough so they can hear, Gil Tae-mi acknowledges that they must see him as a traitor and corrupt official, though he claims that’s all a misunderstanding. “Do you know how much I love this country? There’s no one in Goryeo who loves it more than I do,” he explains merrily.
As he prepares to cut down all the poor bastards who’ve followed him, Shin-jeok and Bang-gwa set out with their forces to find him. They’re acting like they’re trying to corner a wild and very dangerous animal, which in some ways, they are.
Gil Tae-mi kills enough of the soldiers for the others to let him pass and walks through the crowded streets with ease, considering that everyone who sees him screams and runs. Bang-gwa’s forces encounter him first, and though the elder Lee brother knows they can’t capture him, he knows they have to buy time for the others to arrive.
Bang-gwa does his best to hide his nervousness as Gil Tae-mi threatens to cut down the first man who comes at him. And he does just that with surprising speed and force when one expendable soldier accuses him of being nothing more than the rag Lee In-gyeom used to clean up his messes.
Gil Tae-mi now threatens to behead the next man who dares to call him that. Moo-hyul tries his best to psyche himself up to say it and challenge him, but only gets as far as a low whisper. Then when he seems about to really say it, another voice booms, “Hey, Lee In-gyeom’s used rag!”
It’s Bang-ji, who’s not the least bit afraid to call Gil Tae-mi out for a lifetime of servitude to Lee In-gyeom. Moo-hyul curses his rotten luck as Gil Tae-mi recognizes Bang-ji as the warrior he’s been looking for.
“Leave your title as the best swordsman of the Three Kingdoms here and go, Gil Tae-mi,” Bang-ji adds as part of his challenge. Gil Tae-mi is genuinely excited to finally be facing off against him again.
The second he drops his sheath, they both run toward each other and leap into the air, their swords at the ready…
Fight! Fight! Fight! You know a cliffhanger works when you’re on pins and needles waiting to know what happens, but it’s not just the endgame I’m interested in, but the process itself. Namely, the actual battle—because when you build up two warriors like Bang-ji and Gil Tae-mi and finally give us their big showdown, there’s no way you can get away with a convenient time skip to the aftermath. The heart wants what it wants, and in this case, it wants an epic display of martial arts skills.
I’m hesitant about predicting who the winner will be, aside from the fact that Bang-ji can’t die, though I suppose he could still lose and live. Unfortunately I get the distinct feeling that Gil Tae-mi’s fortune ends here, even though it shouldn’t be considered that unfortunate when he’s killed so many people. But darn it, this is fiction and he’s been so entertaining thus far! He’s as bad as they come, and while this hour really brought home that he’s not any better than Minister Hong, he’s the fun sort of bad to have around. Or was. Y’know, I’ll save the eulogy for when he’s actually dead.
I do wonder at this point if Gil Tae-mi is still operating on his plan to kill Lee Seong-gye, or if he gave that up once he got betrayed. Now it’s hard to tell whether he thinks he’ll live through this and escape, or whether he knows he won’t and is just going out with a bang. Either way, I thought it strangely endearing that he comforted Minister Hong into letting him think he’d join him when he didn’t seem so sure he would—it even had the effect of making Minister Hong just a little less awful for one whole millisecond, which takes talent.
But then Gil Tae-mi went and murdered all those innocent people, which still hits a wrong note somewhere for me. Sure, he took land from people and didn’t care who died in the process along with a myriad number of other crimes, but killing the family who cooked his food in cold blood? Maybe it isn’t as uncharacteristic as I’m making it out to be, and it’s just the natural repulsiveness of the act that’s not sitting right. Or that a character who was somewhat likable could do something so repugnant. I guess that’s what I get for liking bad guys, and why I shouldn’t be upset when they do bad things.
Aside from all that, three cheers for Minister Hong finally getting his comeuppance. Bang-won’s face-off with him felt simultaneously empowering and foreboding, since it was easy to believe that he is who he says he is now. Just like it’s easy to believe that as of this moment, he knows himself and what he wants—but it’s also easy to believe that power corrupts, since we’ve seen it firsthand in Minister Hong. And though Bang-won is different, he won’t ever be content to settle for less than what he feels is his due. One day that bug nestled deep within his heart will stop whispering and start talking—and eventually, he’s going to listen.
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 16
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 15
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 14
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 13
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 12
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 11
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 10
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 9
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 8
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 7
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 6
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 5
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 4
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 3
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 2
- Six Flying Dragons: Episode 1